The Seduction of Certainty – Part 1


In my 20 plus years of teaching, and having a full time psychotherapy, coaching and healing practice, my clients have always found me through word of mouth. Someone I worked with, and helped, told their friends about me, or someone heard about me from one of my clients and started telling people.

Recently, having felt called to be more present and visible in the world, I’ve leaped into a new level of my work. To facilitate this change, I’ve found myself wading through the world of marketing, and feel as if I’ve been hurled, head-first, into a foreign land. As I learn a variety of sales strategies meant to “hook” a potential prospect, my heart rebels.

The biggest problem I have with the marketing techniques that some of today’s sales experts teach is that instead of simply presenting the facts about a product, seminar, or book, they sell you the promise of a wonderful life easily gained. The marketing message says that no matter who you are-no matter what strengths and weaknesses you have, or what your level (or lack) of knowledge, training and skills-you can be rich and famous, maybe even enlightened, easily and instantly. They tell you that if you buy this product, hire this coach, read this book, go to this event, or use this service, you will have, and be, and do… EVERYTHING you ever wanted!

By focusing on the biggest, splashiest, and most desired potential benefits, which encompass every aspect of our life, it feels as though what we’re really being sold is the dream of a fantasy life.

What’s even worse, they’re selling these dreams-which most often involve the prospect of a quick fix or easy money-as if they were certainties. While our thoughts, feelings, and actions influence our life, quick-fixes and easy money are not the norm, and they are definitely not guaranteed, or certain. In reality, certainty about anything is an illusion.

Using our desire for certainty in order to sell products, or even beliefs, occurs in every field including personal development, spiritual growth, and human potential. A familiar pitch is that over the course of a weekend, or a few months, everything in your life will change for the better, and all your dreams will come true. The only prerequisite is the price of admission.

Now, a weekend with a great teacher could powerfully jump-start a deep psychological or spiritual process, and move your life in a positive direction, but no one can predict, much less promise certain success or enlightenment.

While we all have moments of wishing that we had a crystal ball capable of accurately showing us the future of our business, and of our life, this is more than idle curiosity. We want to know what’s going to happen next in our life in order to feed our sense of longed for safety and security, and because not knowing-uncertainty-can stir up various degrees of uneasiness and fear.

It is our fear that drives our desire to be certain about life. And it is our fear that so often causes us to buy this product, or that seminar, in an attempt to avoid or anesthetize the experience of uncertainty. It makes us more open to believing the fantasy outcome we’re being sold, while fueling our attraction to the seller’s absolute certainty and/or exaggerated sense of what’s possible.

Left unexamined, our desire for certainty, fueled by our fear of uncertainty, can produce seemingly unnecessary painful and costly lessons both emotionally and financially.

Coming next:
(The Seduction of Certainty – Part 2)

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